One of the constant nightmares of living amongst FullBlooded Americans is the need to keep them in sight at all times. But due to circumstances out of my control, I’ve been forced to classify any area outside of my household as a warzone of adverse indisposition.
Yesterday was the perfect blend of warm sun and autumn briskness that only the Midwest can bring forth. I went to the only non-corporationfartwater coffee shop in walking distance to get a mocha-latte-bullshitorwhatever and sit in a comfy overstuffed chair creased by many bottoms in the far corner of the shop to skim through some of the newspapers. The typical doom&gloom, ‘female celebrity has the audacity to show her ankles’, ‘young child does something adorable yet mundane’ fare, nothing interesting. You could hand me a newspaper from three decades ago and whiteout the dates and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Somewhere over my shoulder I heard someone cough loudly and clear their throat a few times, and repeated a few moments later. I turned around and didn’t see who had coughed but saw a portly man waiting in the checkout line with massive sweat stains seeping through a short sleeved button up, with a skipped button in the middle that seemed impossible to conceive that someone could miss, glaring at a Sikh man sitting a few tables away from me. The Sikh Man sneezed suddenly, not having the time to react properly and spraying his nose residue throughout the air.
“What the fuck, man?” The Sweaty Man screamed from the other side of the room. Everyone in the shop looked up in shock. The Sikh Man looked at him and started to wipe his nose off on his sleeve. “Keep that ebola shit to yourself.”
There were audible gasps throughout the shop. The Sikh Man looked uncomfortable and mumbled what was probably an apology under his breath as walked up to the counter to grab napkins. The Sweaty Man dramatically took a step back as he approached.
“Dude, what did I just say? Keep that to yourself! Why don’t you use that rag on your head to clean up?”
A hush fell over the shop. I could hear a mouse pissing on cotton from the storage room.
The Sweaty Man continued making noise with his mouth that made as much sense as a Louie Gohmert dissertation, while the Sikh Man attempted to smooth things over in a thick accent, that didn’t help the situation. It’s hard to say if the other customers agreed with The Sweaty Man or just wanted to stay out of it. Either way, the vibes were getting progressively uglier and I didn’t leave my sanctuary for this.
“What is ebola exactly?” I asked, turning in my chair to face The Sweaty Man and crossing my legs.
He stopped mid sentence and looked at me as if I had just asked the most ridiculous question of all time, opened his mouth to speak and then closed it, seeming to think about the question. “Don’t be stupid. You know what it is! It’ll kill us all!” He pointed at The Sikh Man. “Especially if this fool doesn’t be more careful! He should be quarantined.”
Now I don’t know what kind of thought process it takes to hear someone cough and sneeze and have their mind immediately jump to “Oh my god, that guy has a deadly virus that’s going to end the world” and perhaps it’s best that I don’t. I don’t even remember what I said in response. Maybe I didn’t say anything. I just remember looking back down at the newspapers spread across the table, all with multiple “EBOLA CRISIS” headlines, and laughing. Laughing like I was watching an old rerun of Seinfeld.
This act of nonchalantness must have made him lose control of himself-possibly the first time in his privileged life that someone didn’t take him seriously- as he raced towards where I was sitting snarling wildly, practically foaming at the mouth: “HOW DARE YOU LAUGH AT ME, YOU ARROGANT LITTLE PANSY! LOOK AT ME. DO YOU SEE SOMEBODY YOU WANT TO MESS WITH?!”
His wrinkly outie belly button was a mere inch away from my face.
“I’ve seen about all I want to see, thanks.”
He backed away with a smug smile. “I’m glad you see it my way. I didn’t want to have to hurt you.”
“You should always trust your gut.” I said as I stood up and put the newspapers back on the rack.
So, there is indeed a quarantine in effect. But it’s not a physical disease I fear.